News Release

Mali: Libya Bombing and Saudi Power as Sources of Instability


AJAMU BARAKA, ajamubaraka2 at
Only in the U.S. through next week, Baraka is an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and is based in Colombia.

He said today: “The destabilization of Mali and the enhanced power of jihadist groups in in the country are a direct consequence of the British and French led NATO assault on Libya. Across the North and West Africa, it was the militant jihadist forces who became the real beneficiaries of the Western led destruction of Libya which resulted in arms and reinvigorated radical Islamist movements in a number of countries in Africa. Unfortunately, the innocent are paying the price for the misguided policies of the French government.”

While NPR reports that “France has historic ties with Mali, where gunmen took hostages at a luxury hotel in the capital Bamako.” Baraka highlights the nature of those “historic ties.” Says Baraka: “It is important to understand the nefarious role of the French state in Mali — and indeed across north Africa — as French policies have resulted in increased ability of these reactionary forces to carry out these horrific acts that we are all witness to.

Baraka is also an editor and columnist for Black Agenda Report. He recently wrote the piece “The Paris Attacks and the White Lives Matter Movement” in which he writes of the Paris attacks representing “blowback” from France’s intervention in Syria. Writes Baraka, ”In the context of the existing global power relations, crimes committed by Western states and those states aligned with the West as well as their paramilitary institutions escape accountability for crimes committed in the non-European world. In fact some states — like the United States — proudly claim their ‘exceptionality,’ meaning impunity from international norms, as a self-evident natural right.”

Added Baraka: “There’s also the critical role of the Saudi government and individual citizens regarding the rise and enhancement of power of radical jihadi movements in the Mideast, Africa and indeed, the world.” See his piece on the ongoing Saudi bombing of Yemen in Counterpunch: “The Yemen Tragedy and the Ongoing Crisis of the Left in the United States.”

Baraka warned in the piece “From Benghazi to Boko Haram: Why I support the Benghazi Inquiry” from last year: “African Union Commission chief Jean Ping warned NATO, during its bombing campaign and arming of so-called rebel forces in Libya, that the weapons they provided the ‘rebels’ would end up in the hands of al-Qaeda throughout Africa. He said, ‘Africa’s concern is that weapons that are delivered to one side or another … are already in the desert and will arm terrorists and fuel trafficking.’

“Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo expressed what many in Africa feared from the NATO attack on Libya: ‘We knew that at the end of the Libya operations, there would be fallouts. And the fallout would be where would all the weapons go? Where would be some of those who have been trained how to use weapons [and] how would they be accounted for? … Part of what is happening in Mali is part of the fallout from Libya, and we should not expect that Mali will be the last.'”

Background: Nick Turse on “Democracy Now” earlier this week: “”Tomorrow’s Battlefield”: As U.S. Special Ops Enter Syria, Growing Presence in Africa Goes Unnoticed” stated: “One example is the case of Mali, where you had a U.S.-trained officer who overthrew the democratically elected government there just two years ago. You know, this was — Mali was supposed to be a bulwark against terrorism. It was supposed to be a stable success story. Instead you have that occurrence. Then, last year, a U.S.-trained officer overthrew the government of Burkina Faso. …

“And it then had a tendency to spread across the continent. Gaddafi had Tuaregs from Mali who worked for him. They were elite troops. As his regime was falling, the Tuaregs raided his weapons stores, and they moved into Mali, into their traditional homeland, to carve out their own nation there. When they did that, the U.S.-backed military in Mali, that we had been training for years, began to disintegrate. That’s when the U.S.-trained officer decided that he could do a better job, overthrew the democratically elected government. But he proved no better at fighting the Tuaregs than the government he overthrew. As a result, Islamist rebels came in and pushed out his forces and the Tuaregs, and were making great gains in the country, looked poised to take it over.”The U.S. decided to intervene again, another military intervention. We backed the French and an African force to go in and stop the Islamists. We were able to, with these proxies — which is the preferred method of warfare on the African continent — arrest the Islamists’ advance, but now Mali has descended into a low-level insurgency. And it’s been like this for several years now. The weapons that the Tuaregs originally had were taken by the Islamists and have now spread across the continent. You can find those weapons in the hands of Boko Haram now, even as far away as Sinai in Egypt. So, now, the U.S. has seen this as a way to stop the spread of militancy, but I think when you look, you see it just has spread it.”